While the basketball world has been focused on the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, LA Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly worked their way up to the number two spot in the Western Conference. This is quite remarkable since the Spurs began the season with a mediocre start (12-9) and have played without Manu Ginobili in 26 of 35 games.
Offensively, the Spurs have increased their output (98.6-99.8) by only one point. What’s more significant are increases in free-throw attempts (19.5 to 23.5), fewer assists (23.2 to 21.4) and fewer turnovers (13.2 to 12.2). The Spurs are getting efficient ball movement as turnovers have declined and opponents are getting fewer steals (5.4 to 4.4) and blocks (8.1 to 6.8).
Tony Parker is responsible for much of this improvement:
Tony Parker has been more aggressive and this has resulted in more damage from the free-throw line: three more attempts (4.3 to 7.4) and three more makes (3.3 to 6.2). Parker’s increased point production (17.3 to 22.1) is impressive since assists have also increased (7.6 to 8.8) but turnovers remain at 2.6/game.
1) Manu Ginobili returning and staying healthy
2) Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair, and Tiago Splitter continuing to balance out an already strong perimeter offense
3) Ability to contain penetration and rotate to shooters
But the return of Manu Ginobili will alleviate some of the pressure on Tony Parker and will make the Spurs even more difficult to defend. Lead by Ginobili/Parker, a strong supporting cast, and an impressive team defense, the Spurs are NBA title contenders this season.
If the Spurs succeed, it will be another remarkable achievement for a team that lost in the first round of the playoffs last season, made only minor off-season changes, has three aging superstars, and won four championships in the last thirteen years.
Written by Arun (@ArunKnows) and CoachNick (@BBallSource)
Filed in: Uncategorized